Sunday, January 13, 2013
January 13- Toronto Blue Jays
It’s not uncommon for team to switch uniform colors and styles to help bring in new revenue for a dwindling team. More times than you’d imagine, not only does a change of appearance help out financially, it also brings an unusual amount of success for a fledgling team. Take the Tampa Bay Rays for example. They went to the World Series in 2008, the same year they not only changed their colors and logos, but also when they changed their team name for the Devil Rays to just the Rays. When the Toronto Blue Jays made a switch back in 1995, it really caught people by surprise. The team was a year removed from back-to-back World Series victories, and the classic look of that era was holding strong for retailers. But not only did the Blue Jays change their colors and logo, they did it four times from 1995-2011, until finally landing on their current style, a tribute to the early 90s. However, the hat in which I am writing about tonight served as the team’s road cap from 2004-2005, before taking over as their game cap until the end of the 2011 season. The best the team ever finished during that stretch was a modest 87-75, good enough for a second place finish in the American League East, but not a trip into the playoffs.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that the brightest stars to shine during that stretch were Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells and a much underutilized Shea Hillenbrand; however, with this hat I got a bit personal with my marks.
#19- Jose Bautista didn’t really come onto the scene until the 2010 season when he hit an unprecedented 54 home runs on the year. My personal tie with this year is that I had Bautista on my fantasy team, and not only did he do well for me, he was the key reason I won my 7th straight championship. Early in the season I had been monitoring his accomplishments closely. Bautista always had the ability to hit for power; however, his average was rather shaky. For this reason, Bautista sat on the free agent wire for the first month of the season… and two weeks after that. I generally don’t pull the trigger on someone throughout the season unless they can prove to me that they’ll be a pivotal player in my lineup. After Bautista hit his 13th home run of the season, I picked him up, and dropped Seattle Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez who had done well for me the previous season. I figured with Bautista I would be able to get at least 35 home runs and over 100 RBI out of him. Little did I know that my prediction was selling him short. As I mentioned earlier, dude pal crushed 54 home runs and knocked in 124; a fair portion of which he clubbed during my playoff run. With my championship in tact and Bautista as the clear MVP of my team, I enshrined his number in the Benjamin Christensen fantasy baseball Hall of Fame.
#26? You guessed it, Adam Lind. Like Bautista, Lind became a Benjamin Christensen fantasy baseball Hall of Fame member after the 2009 season when I had drafted him and Aaron Hill in the 10th and 11th rounds respectively in my league. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of trash talking I go for drafting both of them, especially considering that I could have easily picked both up off of the free agency wire a month or two into the season. But, I persevered, and stuck by my guns. Hill had a career year, if you don’t remember, but so did Lind. Hill went .286/36/108 but Lind went .305/35/114, and yet the Jays somehow didn’t climb higher than 4th place in the AL East that year. Sadly, as the year came to a close, so did Lind’s dominance in the league. The next three years weren’t too kind to him as he never hit above .255. In 2012 Lind found himself DFAed and playing in AAA for a portion of the season before the Jays gave him another shot and he began to hit for power again. But, it was 2009 where Lind took my MVP honors and locked up my 6th straight championship, which proved especially satisfying when I rubbed in the faces of the losers at season’s end. From an unexpected 10th round pick to fantasy work horse; Adam Lind, you done good kiddo.